Inspired by the diaries of Russian artist Marie Bashkirtseff, MacLane's prose is lyrical, sharp, bizarre, and anguished. The "barrenness" of existence is at the forefront: "It is not deaths and murders and plots and wars that make life tragedy. It is Nothing that makes life tragedy." Her life is a monotonous routine: "I rise in the morning; eat three meals; and walk; and work a little, read a little, write; see some uninteresting people; go to bed." Ad infinitum.
In her published diaries, Mary MacLane fantasized about marrying Napoleon and discussed, at length, her sexual desires for Fannie Corbin, her former schoolteacher. She died alone in a Chicago boardinghouse in 1929.
Her diaries are being republished today under a title that sounds like something out of There Will Be Blood: I Await the Devil's Coming.